Bloating is a bitch!
Not only does it makes us look worse by having our gut stick out, but it typically accompanies a gassy, uncomfortable feeling.
Oh, and I also tend to breathe heavy when I’m bloated. Yikes.
The thing is, anybody who gives you a clear cut answer on how to deal with bloating is either lying, or is just ignorant about the topic.
Unfortunately, we know very little about the gut and how to optimize its functioning, therefore it’s only possible to give you general recommendations that TEND TO help. So with that, let’s look at some of the more common causes:
1) Food intolerances
While full-blown food allergies are quite rare, slight to moderate sensitivities to certain foods are actually pretty common.
Dairy, (hard cheeses tend to be the least problematic) gluten and FODMAP sensitivities are some of the more common ones.
Luckily, going on strict elimination diets is not always necessary to diagnose your suspect foods.
If you’re eating one of the above mentioned (or other common culprit food) items in high volumes at the moment, perhaps an easy way to trouble-shoot it is to just eliminate that food for a while.
If the symptoms don’t improve after a week or two, it was probably something else.
2) Fiber intake
Fiber tends to be talked about as the ultimate cure for all gut issues –
“Bloated? Eat more fiber! Constipated? Eat more fiber!”
The thing is, that it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Fiber can be helpful to pass stuff through one’s GI tract, but it’s only helpful in so far as your gut microbiome can actually deal with it. Some people’ digestive tracts simply don’t handle large quantities of fiber very well, especially insoluble fiber, which can be quite tough on the gut. In fact, severe bloating is quite common amongst bodybuilders and physique competitors that eat almost exclusively green vegetables as their carb sources near the end of their contest-prep diets.
I’m not trying to suggest that fiber is bad, but just know adding MORE fiber to your diet might work just as well as severely REDUCING the amount of fiber in your diet – it all depends on your situation.
So if you’re currently eating giant salads and plates of veggies and are bloated, try reducing the amount of fiber you’re consuming.
Conversely, if you’re barely consuming any fiber and bloated, try eating more fiber.
3) Modifying your plant sources
Continuing from the previous point, sometimes just modifying your fiber source can help too: if a large majority of your fiber is coming from green veggies at the moment, you may want to replace them with foods higher in soluble fiber. As an easy heuristic, fruits and veggies that feel ‘softer’ are also easier on the gut than those that have a ‘rougher’ texture. Think tomatoes vs broccoli, or strawberries vs apples.
Also, cooking your veggies properly can help.
4) Eating habits
Not to provide this as a cop-out, but too much of ANYTHING will bloat you up.
You could be eating foods that your gut can handle perfectly well, but if you’re stuffing yourself with them to the point of severe discomfort, you will get bloated from them. This applies to fruits and veggies just as much as to junk-foods.
Sitting down, focusing on your food while you’re eating and paying attention to your body’s signals will greatly eliminate the likelihood of you ending up in painful bloating by the end of your meals.
Having square meals with adequate space between them – as opposed to snacking all the time – is also helpful.
Now with all that said: are there times when digestive enzymes, probiotics, or even special treatments (such as antibiotics) can help? Sure. But in the majority of the cases, a combination of these action steps goes a very long way.
Article Credits – Abel Csabai